Boliye madam, kya lao? Bheja Fry, Bheja Masala, Gurda Masala, Kheeri Kalegi?
It was a given that I would visit this place someday, since I’m a hard core non-vegetarian. So one weekend while the rest of Mumbai was preparing to call it a night, we were headed to visit a small but lively junction below JJ flyover in South Mumbai to sample some popular (audacious, may be) street food.
There are two famous Khau gullies on this stretch – Minara Masjid and Bohri Mohalla. Minara Masjid is the more popular brother among the two. A tall white and green masjid becomes your landmark to sneak into a barricaded street full of makeshift stalls selling meat of all kinds. The smoke from grills and tandoors is thick in the air. Every shop has a dedicated waiter serving, shouting and poaching customers. People hover around already settled customers in the hope to grab a seat. And the entire lane is lit up with colorful lights.
Food not for the fainthearted
The display of meat both raw and cooked can be quite graphic here. Whole tandoori chickens hang from hooks to lure hungry foodies. Caged Quails are on counters while customers sit across a table and order for a quail tandoori. Tikkas on skewers come in red, green, white and yellow color. Shopkeepers fan mutton sheekh kebabs on coal grills. Chote kebabs or small beef kebabs get deep fried in hot oil and served between breads along with onions and mint chutney. Biryanis and Haleem are served from large handis.
A majority section has an appetite for offal or organs like goat brains, liver, kidney, udder and even testicles. Brave hearted can sample dishes like Zabaan soup (tongue), Nalli nihari (marrow), Paya (trotters), Pichda (Ox tail) and Topa (Ox hump).
Whole tandoori chickens hang from hooks to lure hungry customers
What we sampled?
We tried Beef Fry Masala and Bheja Masala with Naan Bread, a half plate Chicken Fry, Mutton Pulao and Chicken Pulao.
The beef fry masala went well with the round toasted naan bread and so did the bheja masala. The latter was creamy and could almost camouflage as an egg based dish. This was followed by chicken fry. A deep red color achieved from throwing chicken into hot oil. The meat was piping hot but slightly dry, although it went well when accompanied with green mint chutney. For mains we ordered chicken pulao and mutton pulao. Both were flavorsome and surprisingly not heavy.
A Sweet Paradise
Mohammad Ali Road is as much a haven for sweet lovers.
The Suleiman Usman Mithaiwala right at the entrance towards the Minara Masjid eat-street is your go-to place for all things sweet from flavored phirnis to biscuits, khaja, sandal and sutarfeni (also called budhhi ke baal). Do try their dry fruit Nankhatai. Suleiman Usman Mithaiwala is also popular with some of the biggest Bollywood celebrities.
Other popular stalls around the corner include Noorani Milk Center and Zam Zam. Also try the Burhanpur jalebis in a tiny food stall inside the Minara Masjid lane.
If you have the appetite and the heart, go for the king size Malpua – A deep fried pan cake served with Malai or Rabri. An extremely rich dish, take it up as a challenge to order, eat and finish a Double Malpua with Rabri.
I can vouch for the food at Mohammad Ali Road but I’m not sure if I can vouch for the hygiene. The makeshift stalls are dangerously close to each other. Paper plates, newspaper, plastic bags, empty water bottles and tissues lie on streets. Food is displayed in the open and shopkeepers multi-task handling customers and shooing away flies at the same time.
The food is rich and greasy and so you are required to wash your hands post meal. But there is limited arrangement for the same. You simply wash your hands wherever you find an empty corner with bucket water provided by the stall. And there is no proper escape for this water. I can’t imagine visiting this place on a rainy day, although Ramzan arrives during the monsoons.
Some Practical Things to Know
- Arrive after 8pm. Let the community break their fast and eat their meal. Non-Muslims can join in the party later. We visited Minara Masjid around 11pm and left by 1am. Even at this hour, the traffic was crazy and the crowd maddening.
- Try to sample food from multiple food stalls instead of eating your entire meal at just one stall.
- Avoid taking your car. We did the mistake of taking our car and struggled to maneuver the vehicle in traffic. We ended up parking our car over a kilometer away from Minara Masjid towards CST.
- Police patrolling is in place and the local community has their own volunteers making announcements to take care of your bag and belongings (and children too!)
- More importantly, understand that the food tastes the same even if you had visited Mohammad Ali Road on a normal day instead of during this holy month. The food won’t miraculously taste gob smacking delicious. One visits Mohammad Ali Road during Ramadan for the hype, chaos, ambiance and set up.
Tandoori chicken pieces. Also notice the sight of raw meat right behind the second thal
In a nutshell
It was a good food exploration visit to Mohammad Ali Road. But I’d still say this trip was incomplete because I didn’t check out Bohri Mohalla. Neither did I get the opportunity to sample food from popular joints like Noor Mohamaddi and Sarvi. Although I think these deserve posts of their own. So I might just visit this place again. Perhaps next Ramzan, or may be earlier, you never know. Stay tuned!
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